Last-ditch virus aid talks collapse; no help for jobless now

WASHINGTON (AP) — A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money collapsed in disappointment Friday, making it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummeled by the still-raging coronavirus.

“It was a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion.

He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, “Unfortunately we did not make any progress today.”

Republicans said Pelosi was relying on budget maneuvers to curb costs and contended she has overplayed her hand.

Often an impasse in Washington is of little consequence for the public — not so this time.

It means longer and perhaps permanent expiration of a $600 per-week bonus pandemic jobless benefit that’s kept millions of people from falling into poverty.

It denies more than $100 billion to help schools reopen this fall.

It blocks additional funding for virus testing as cases are surging this summer.

And it denies billions of dollars to state and local governments considering furloughs as their revenue craters.

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